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Weekend Picks

February 01, 2003 12:05 IST

Browse through a church made of bones, look at the world through a lens eye, find out about a great literary genius and delve into the little known facts about the Tasmanian Devil

Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, and how! About 70 kilometres east of the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague, lies a small town called Sedlec. It might have been an ordinary enough town, if not for its extraordinary church. The inside of this church is decorated with artworks made of human bones.

The story begins in 1218, when a certain abbot Henry made a pilgrimage to the holy land and brought back a jar full of soil, which he spread over the Church's cemetery. As a result the cemetery came to be regarded as sacred and turned into a popular burial spot.

By 1318, more than 30,000 bodies were buried there and by 1511, it had become necessary to remove the older bones to make place for the new ones. These later became the material for the macabre creations. In 1870 a local woodcarver was hired by the Duke of Shwartzenberg to decorate the inside of the church with the human remains (approximately 40,000 sets of bones).

If it all sounds too ghastly to be true, check out these pictures. The outside of the church seems like any other church, but the inside, with the roof and walls covered with bones, is nothing short of chilling. A bone chandelier hanging elegantly from the ceiling, a bone chalice gracing a wall, and the Coat of Arms of the Shwartzenberg family also standing among the rest of the creations - all seem to give a curious testimony to history.

A Day in the Life

'A new photo every day, a new location every week.'  That's the theme of this site. Every week a new photographer is invited to showcase his work. He is assigned to shoot one photo everyday for seven days. The subject of the pictures is left to the photographer's discretion. The single condition being that it should have been clicked not more than 24 hours ago.

As the photographer changes every week, so does the location. In one week you might be enjoying pictures of some lovely lake in India. The next week you might have a photographer from Paris, taking you through the sights and scenes of that delightful city. And the third week, you may be exposed to life in Holland!

The site is not specifically aimed at professional photographers; so if you have a thing for the camera and want to share your passion with the world, go ahead. And don't forget to browse the site archive.

Knowing Poe 

Who hasn't heard of Edgar Allan Poe, one of the greatest literary geniuses of all time? But while we have certainly heard of him or read his works, how much do we really know about him? Knowing Poe, a site put together by Maryland Public Television, is a place to do just that.

Find out more about Poe, the person through this interactive timeline of events. Learn about Poe, the writer -- his works and the techniques he used to create them. Also enjoy some of his popular short stories and poems in the Poe Library.  Participate in online discussions with other Poe enthusiasts.

While his life was never easy, his death has also remained a mystery. The personal letters written by him give us a faint glimpse into what must have been a tragic life that met a premature end.

Natural History Notebooks

What is the smallest frog in Canada? What can we learn from dinosaur trackways? What is the largest snake? For answers to these questions and more, log on to this site and enjoy the ride!

Brought to you by The Canadian Museum of Nature, the site boasts an incredible number of fascinating facts on more than 246 animal species, segregated into sections – mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, prehistoric and more. There's also a 'Search by Map' option, whereby you can click on any point on the map and get a listing of the animal species specific to that particular geographical region.

Now whether you want to know about the Giant Armadillo or the Kangaroo Rat, the Tasmanian Devil or the Black Lemur, you know where to head!


Sylvia D'Souza